— Emilio Pisani —
In the January-June 1999 edition of the Bollettino Valtortiano [Valtorta Bulletin], a semi-annual publication produced by Valtorta's editor and publisher, Emilio Pisani, there appears an excerpt of a letter written by an Italian lady, Vittoria Anzidei. The letter itself was sent by Ms. Anzidei to the director of the Messaggero de sant'Antonio ["Saint Anthony Messenger" -- Italian edition]. Dr. Pisani quotes the pertinent excerpt, which concerns Ms. Anzidei's experience in reading Valtorta's Poem of the Man-God. Then under an essay entitled "What a Message from that Messenger," he proceeds to reply at length to what one may assume was a rather critical and biased anti-Valtorta reply (unavailable to this writer) to Ms. Anzidei from Messaggero's director.
The translation presented here is intended to make both the
brief excerpt of Vittoria Anzidei's letter as well as Dr. Pisani's "reply to a
reply" accessible to English readers of Valtorta who do not know Italian nor
have access to the Bollettino Valtortiano. The essay closes with
an interesting and lengthy testimony of another Valtorta reader, an ex-prisoner,
to the graces and benefits he received from Valtorta's Poem of the
Man-God. May it further confirm those who already know this great
treasure of God's mercy toward modern man, and inspire those who do not to seek
death of my husband, I passed through a period of profound dejection and
distress, and even my confidence in God was somewhat lessened. A friend
advised me to read "The Poem of the Man-God" of Maria Valtorta. I
have read the ten volumes of the work a good two times and have remained
edified and consoled. I warmly advise the reading of it for its
extraordinary power of spiritual ascent.
Vittoria Anzidei - Rome
WHAT A MESSAGE FROM THAT MESSENGER
What we report here is a letter that was not sent to us. We therefore wish to know the address of the lady who wrote it, to be able to insert it among those of the readers who receive our Bulletin. It is a letter published last year (June 1998) in Messaggero de sant'Antonio [St. Anthony Messenger -- Italian version], a very widely disseminated Catholic monthly, to which the letter had been sent. If we only now speak of it at [some] distance of time, it is to give an account of the indications that have reached us not so much about the letter, but about the answer given to the letter by the director of that monthly.
Well, that answer was displeasing to many, and without doubt it must have done more harm than good to the letter writer, Vittoria Anzidei. Because it was an answer preoccupied with being "cautious" rather than truthful and charitable. It warned without wanting to understand, without having any regard for that "profound dejection and distress" which had been changed into a "spiritual ascent," making her recover "her confidence in God." A disappointing answer to a letter which did not ask for a lecture, but announced the joy of a discovery -- in order to make other unfortunates participants with her in the search for light.
* * *
It is undeniable that the diffusion of Maria Valtorta's Work (uninterrupted for almost half a century!) has caused both favorable and opposed positions to be recorded: the second [group] in a clear minority, even if ferocious. So undeniable is this, that we have produced a book entitled Pro e contro Maria Valtorta ["For and against Maria Valtorta"]. In our book, therefore, the positions of both parties are documented, so that the reader could take account of their arguments.
It is unreliable to begin by raking up the ancient condemnation of the Index without speaking of its declared motives and explaining them with a little objectivity. And it is not fair to add that "that authoritative opinion has not been removed," when there exists a document of ecclesiastical authority which gives us to understand the contrary [view] with glaring clarity.1 It suffices to know how to read and to communicate, if one has love for the truth and for one's neighbor.
The circumstance of the beatification of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina recalls to us how that holy friar was hit with a good four decrees of condemnation from the Holy Office. The first of them, May 31, 1923, denied the "supernaturality of the facts" that concerned him and exhorted the faithful to guide themselves in conformity [with the decree]. If the sources of information on which we draw are not mistaken, none of those four decrees has been revoked. Nonetheless, the whole subsequent history, culminating in these days with the beatification in Saint Peter's at Rome, goes to demonstrate that the ecclesiastical authority has radically changed [its] opinion about Padre Pio.
For Maria Valtorta also there will be no revocation of the decree of the Holy Office of December 16, 1959, which put her Work on the Index. Not only because that is an unusual action, but also because it would serve no purpose. In fact, some years after that condemnation, Pope Paul VI suppressed the Index of Forbidden Books. It remains only to follow the evolution of the thought and behavior of the Church-Authority, which one day will recognize in the Work of Valtorta what the Church-People of God have always recognized. Whoever is living then will see it.
Those Catholics who do not perceive, in the present time, the attempts [made] at review, and who are slow to notice a provision of the past which has been surpassed, even if it continues to be heavy --such Catholics do not stretch their gaze toward the future. The graces of prophecy -- which would give a hand to the Church in getting out of the tracks of ugly historical figures -- are, through a blind opportunism, precluded.
* * *
After nailing [Valtorta's] Work to the stake of the Holy Office -- and at that time it was still thus called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, hence it is improper to refer to the ex-Holy Office -- the director of the Messaggero di sant'Antonio [Saint Anthony Messenger] broadens his discourse (it is his own expression) to private revelations. But his discourse is incompressible. Generally, one who speaks thus either does not know what he is saying or fears that he could be refuted. Here, we could bet, is a third case: the discourse is clear but we are not willing to receive it.
We do not know if the letter writer, Vittoria Anzidei, to whom the response was directed, understood it. Re-reading her letter, we see that the lady already had some very clear ideas and was not asking for any explanation. Let us hope that her precious "confidence in God," lost following a misfortune and found again through a Work which is a grace of God, may not again be put to flight through the fault of a man of God. If it should be so, we would so much want to reach her with these words of ours, short and simple as was her letter.
The Church, dear lady, admits the possibility of so called "private revelations," because she cannot deny the omnipotence of God. She calls them "private" (and there could be so many of them, and they could be manifested at any time), to distinguish them from the public Revelation, which is only one: that which the Church hands down to us with the Bible (crammed, among other things, with visions and apparitions) and which is accomplished in Jesus Christ who is, at it were, the definitive recapitulation of all Revelation.
Now tell us: the Work of Maria Valtorta --has it made Jesus Christ known to you, or not? has it made you love Jesus Christ, or not? has it made you desire to follow Jesus Christ, or not? If the answer is no, beware. If yes, be at peace.
"All the rest" -- [these are] words of the Gospel, which is an integral part of the Bible -- "comes from the Evil One" (Matt. 5:37).
* * *
It could be said that this, our "reply to a reply" breaks through an open door. We mean that perhaps there are not lacking letters in reply to the Messaggero de sant'Antonio, which has very many readers, just as the Work of Maria Valtorta has very many. In short, we do not know how things have gone after that number of June ' 98. If Ms. Anzidei has been satisfied, so much the better.
In any case, we want to conclude with a letter that an ex-prisoner sent to the director of that Catholic monthly (in the hope -- a vain one -- of seeing it published) and to us (for our knowledge). It is a very long letter, therefore we do not report all of it, but we extract the passages closest to our subject:
...I agree completely with the enthusiasm of Ms. Anzidei, and I wish that these innumerable benefits received by the people of God should be considered by the Church.
Certainly Revelation is sufficient for making God and His infinite love known to men, our duties toward Him so as to merit an eternal reward, and the spiritual helps which He has given us to conquer the incitements of Original Sin. But Jesus is not Head of an inept Church, nor is He inert. He sees the lethargy in which men dwell, He sees them perishing from spiritual coldness without the shepherds called to help them, because the shepherds themselves are lukewarm in the faith... Then Jesus, the true Good Shepherd, goes Himself to gather His scattered sheep, abandoned to themselves and to the perils which Satan sows. [Jesus] uses those who are in the "great tribulation," nearer to His passion, and He illumines them, makes them luminous beacons for the crowds thirsting for spirituality --much more than one could expect. This is the function of the mystics or of the simple servants of the Lord. God does nothing that is superfluous...
The Church has the task of defending these chosen ones of God, of not covering the "lamp under a bushel," but of making it shine forth. In such cases the Church appraises the conformity of private revelations to the Scriptures, to Tradition, to Dogma, and sees the effects which they [private revelations] arouse in the people of God. As for Valtorta, Jesus Himself speaks on the contents [of her revelations] saying that nothing different has been added, the word of God is eternal and not changeable through the passing of the centuries. He says that He has only explained the existing "Word." Today men are habituated to the immediacy of communication without so many circumlocutions, reflections or linguistic interpretations, and Jesus has provided that [in Valtorta] giving us so many pearls of clarity and synthesis.
... I re-read the thousands of Valtorta's pages, the most profound evidence of [these pearls], I annotate my impressions in the margins and, even from the beginning, I made a clean sweep of all the other books, religious or secular, inspired or not, (the Bible excluded), including therefore St. Augustine, Dostoevski and all modern thinkers, because I hold them -- all -- poorer in spiritual content, convoluted and distorted in regard to the revelations made to Valtorta by Jesus, Most Holy Mary, etc.
The lightning flash from [Valtorta's] Work comes -- among other things -- even in suffering. It came to Ms. Anzidei in the crisis of widowhood, and to the undersigned in the deep night of prison. I suffered like a dog from the moral, spiritual and material humiliations --things incomprehensible for anyone who has never been there. By chance I had had in hand the 9th volume of [Valtorta's] Work, the one which speaks of the Passion of Jesus. I understood even from the first pages that it was a question of something sensational: of a greatly suffering mystic who received revelations so sublime, so torturous and so loving for us men. I immediately sought the other books...
I flung myself headlong into reading them. How much solace I received from them! What sweetness, the love of Jesus! In those pages, the Bible was finally clear to me and I finally also understood it, explained by the Author Himself --Jesus. My sufferings persisted, but now I saw them with another eye. I suffered less, my life was no longer so black, there was hope in the help of God, the promise that the sufferings were not useless but served to merit Heaven. This Latter was no longer lost, but promised with certainty to one who, though a sinner, repented and forsook God no more. Oh, how beautiful it became to live! What a grace is a single day of the Lord! How I suffered for so many of my companions who had taken their life! What an enormous strength is hope! What an enormous strength is truth, the certainty within me that even if it was not appreciated by men, there Above there was a God Who identified it to me, and He did not let Himself be deceived by the lies of my antagonist. Finally, for the evil which I did, there was a way to remedy it by asking forgiveness from God and from men.
Now I am free, even if unemployed, and we are four in our family. Thanks be to God, some small economic help has come little by little. The moral and material sufferings remain, but when one has God's help, all is overcome. The hope persists of a return to work. God does not forsake anymore one whom He has once drawn to safety. Now I recognize my old errors and I pay the price for them, quite happily, knowing that this will bring me to the last end of man: to merit eternal salvation.
Mr. Director, I did not express myself in these terms before experiencing the lightning flash of Valtorta's revelations, and this is why I am so convinced in her defense. Let her censors, old and new, examine well these graces of the Lord to Ms. Anzidei and to me; and (citing Jesus unworthily), let them observe how "the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk."-- An ex-prisoner
1 The reader might profitably read here the "Testimony of Fr. Corrado Berti, O.S.M" posted elsewhere on this web site. Fr. Berti, a theologian and annotator of Valtorta's works, was one of the three witnesses who, with Valtorta's spiritual director, Fr. Romualdo Migliorini, O.S.M, and their Superior, Fr. Andrew M. Cecchin, O.S.M., Prior of the the international College of the Servites of Mary in Rome, was called to a special audience with the then reigning Pope Pius XII, who gave them the verbal imprimatur to "...publish this Work as it is. Whoever reads [it] will understand." This special audience is documented on the first page of L'Osservatore Romano for 26 February, 1946. --Trans.